Bad Ideas, Education / Schools, Lawyer of the Day, Rudeness

Dad v. Mean Girls

I’ve said before that I think that parents need to teach their kids coping mechanisms to deal with bullying from their peers. But it might be foolhardy to expect Baby Boomer parents to instill any kind of internal strength in their children.

Instead, it’s much more likely that the only thing kids these days will learn from their parents will be how to sue those who annoy them. At least, that’s the message one Houston man is teaching his daughter. After a group of middle-school girls apparently posted some nasty comments about his daughter on YouTube, the father — who is also an attorney — sent the girls a cease-and-desist letter. When he didn’t receive a response to the letter, he sued the mean girls for defamation.

For those playing along at home: mean middle-school girls bully other girl, so father uses the law to bully middle-school girls. The only satisfactory ending to this story would be if the fathers of the three defendant girls went over to the lawyer’s house and hoisted him on a flagpole by his underwear….

If I had a daughter and some grown man sued her for defamation because of some crap she said at school, that man would probably end up suing me for assault the next day. The Houston Chronicle (gavel bang: ABA Journal) has the story of Texas lawyer Jason Medley:

Last month, three Kingwood students who attend Riverwood Middle School filmed themselves offering unkind words about a classmate, then uploaded the video to the social networking site, the civil complaint says.

The targeted child’s father, Jason Medley, provided the video to school officials, then sent cease-and-desist demands to the three girls and their parents. The letters said he would sue if the youngsters didn’t stop all communication with his daughter and if their families did not donate at least $5,000 each to the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, an Oregon nonprofit.

Receiving no response by his early June deadline, one of Medley’s colleagues filed a defamation of character lawsuit on Tuesday against the three girls, accusing them of making defamatory and false statements that “impute sexual impropriety and misconduct” on his daughter. The complaint also alleged that the video includes threats to physically harm the girl and seeks a permanent injunction to prevent the three from further contacting her.

We haven’t seen the video. Maybe the video they posted was absolutely filthy. Of course, since they were little girls, one imagines that the issue could have been handled without resorting litigation.

I just can’t believe that the father’s response to his daughter being bullied is to bully the little girls right back. Did nobody ever teach this man “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Where has this man been all his life? Listening to Mick Jagger music and bad mouthin’ his country, I bet.

In any event, you know who I feel most sorry for? The guy’s daughter. First some mean girls at her school upload a YouTube clip where they supposedly say nasty things about her, and then her father violates the first rule of childhood social interaction by swooping in to fight her battles for her. Gosh. Do you think anybody is sitting with this girl at lunch? Do you think this girl will ever be invited to a party? I bet other parents are telling their children not to include this girl in all the reindeer games, for fear that her litigious father will haul everybody into court if something goes wrong.

So good job, Jason Medley, you’ve probably ensured that your daughter will spend the next half-decade ostracized by her peers. What are you going to do about it? File a TRO enjoining the other children from hosting any parties where your daughter is not included? And if your daughter goes on to college and escapes your helicopter approach to parenting, you will have only yourself to blame if she “reinvents” herself as a coke fiend with spring-loaded legs in a desperate attempt to find social acceptance.

Everybody has to learn how to deal with bullies sooner or later. You can’t sue your way out of every problem.

Lawyer Responds to Kids’ Video Dissing His Daughter with Cease and Desist Letters, Lawsuit [ABA Journal]
Father sues girls over video [Houston Chronicle]

Earlier: Bullying Shouldn’t Be A Crime, No Matter How Many Kids Kill Themselves Because of It

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